Folks Who Helped Make 4-H Great:
Gertrude Warren

This is the eighth in the series of 10 articles, reprinted from 1962 National 4-H News, which featured people identified by Extension Service professional staff members as “folks who helped make 4-H great.”

Gertrude Warren

Gertrude_Warren“Guardian Angel of 4-H.” That’s what one Extension veteran has called Miss Gertrude L. Warren, one of the earliest 4-H workers still active in the service of club work.

A review of the contributions this fine lady of 4-H has made to present-day club work quickly justifies the title.

Among her contributions, the greatest in subject matter is undoubtedly the broadening of girls’ 4-H work. Canning was the only national home economics project when Miss Warren came to 4-H in 1917. Today’s program includes clothing, room improvement and many others. These projects help more fully to meet the needs of 4-H members and their homes and communities.

Not only did Miss Warren introduce the new projects into the 4-H picture; she also had to prepare much of the written material for them. That was necessary then in order to get material to 4-H girls which was written at their own level. Since then, Extension home economics specialists in each state have produced 4-H literature. Miss Warren’s influence and insistence helped effect this change.

Only part of the picture of this early 4-H worker’s service is portrayed, though, by her work in home economics. She led major advances in many phases of 4-H. The following are only a few:

  • Wrote the first bulletin on training local volunteer 4-H Club leaders.
  • Led in the development of the team demonstration as a means of showing what had been learned in 4-H Club work.
  • Authorized a basic bulletin on “Organization of 4-H Club Work for Use of Local Leaders,” later translated into several other languages for use in foreign youth programs. She also devoted much time to training local leaders in early years.
  • Worked with T. A. Erickson to create National 4-H Sunday and wrote a bulletin on the Heart H.
  • Led in the establishment of the National 4-H Club Foundation and in selecting a site for the National 4-H Center in Washington, D. C. (One of the main buildings at the Center is named Warren Hall in her honor.)
  • Persisted in urging the use of the term “4-H” to replace the earlier title “Boys and Girls Club Work” by which the program was known until the early 1920’s. She also took leadership in having the 4-H emblem copyrighted.
  • Helped plan and initiate the National 4-H Club Camps which included housing in tents in the shadow of the Washington Monument in 1927 and following years. Now, as the National 4-H Conference, this annual event takes place at the 4-H Center.
  • Conceived the plan in the early 1930’s for the 4-H fellowships which provide a year’s study grant for promising 4-H workers to train at the U. S. Department of Agriculture and at nearby universities.
  • Contributed articles on 4-H Club work to various publications, including the Encyclopedia Britannica and others.
  • Not only led in the initiation of National 4-H Club Week but wrote material on the observance of this annual event.
  • anticipated in many conferences and on many committees in Extension, youth and farm home activities.

Brought up on a New York farm, Miss Warren went into home economics teaching while still a student at Columbia University. She went against the advice of many friends when she went into Extension work a year after her graduation in 1917. She was leaving a promising career in an established field to move into the unknown area of 4-H Club work.

After 35 years of service, she retired in December, 1952, and has continued active ever since in 4-H affairs. She is still the guardian angel of 4-H, always ready to combat those who would exploit


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Folks Who Helped Make 4-H Great
Guy L. Noble

This is the sixth in the series of 10 articles, reprinted from 1962 National 4-H News, which featured people identified by Extension Service professional staff members as “folks who helped make 4-H great.”

Guy L. Noble

Guy_L_NobleOne of the unique features of 4-H Club work is its extensive system of private support and the allied network of incentives and awards which help encourage boys and girls to do their best work. This support exists at all levels – national, regional, state and local. It came into existence as the Extension Service and 4-H Club workers expressed needs for help in various facets of club work.

One man stands out as the greatest influence on early national and regional support – Guy L. Noble. Co-founder and first director of the National 4-H Service Committee and co-originator of the National 4-H Club Congress, Noble successfully welded the link between business and government that was so sorely needed in the early days of 4-H.

Noble’s story can’t be told without telling the story of the founding of the National Committee, as 4-H workers refer to the organization in Chicago.

As an employee of Armour and Company, Noble induced his company to sponsor about 40 all-expense trips to the 1919 International Livestock Exposition in Chicago, then wrote to state club leaders in areas where Armour bought livestock, inviting them to select trip winners. In the meanwhile, he arranged a program of entertainment and tours for the Armour trip winners plus some 100 boys and girls who came to Chicago as guests of their local communities, railroads and other sponsors. That assemblage at the 1919 Exposition is recognized as the first National 4-H Club Congress. At that meeting, Noble met E. N. Hopkins, who came with the Iowa delegation. Hopkins had been promoting rural youth work for years, first as editor of the Arkansas Fruit and Farm magazine, then as editor in charge of youth activities for the Meredith Publishing Company.

These two men, Noble and Hopkins, in 1920 and ’21 followed up on earlier proposals to form a national committee to coordinate the growing number of trips and prizes for club work. In late 1921 the National Committee on Boys and Girls Club Work was born, with Noble leaving Armour to become executive secretary. (The name changed in 1960 to National 4-H Service Committee.) Industrial leaders included E. T. Meredith, Thomas E. Wilson, John Coverdale and others.

As the program progressed, Noble established the National 4-H News as an idea exchange medium for 4-H workers, the National 4-H Supply Service and other types of aid to 4-H. His success in enlisting the financial and other help of respected industrial leaders was a source of prestige for 4-H. Noble always set high standards for entertainment and other incentives offered to 4-H’ers.

Co-workers of this pioneer, in describing his work, use such terms as “Dedicated,” “had a deep conviction about the value of 4-H training for youth,” “a strong promoter of 4-H who publicized club work widely,” and “did more to sell 4-H to the businessmen of this nation than any other single person.”

Not only did Noble raise the status of 4-H in the eyes of other Extension workers by strengthening projects and providing the best in entertainment and other features for Club Congress; he helped all of Extension by working hard for large appropriations from the national legislature for the support of Extension work.

Noble also contributed to the cultural side of 4-H. He introduced concerts and other music at Club Congress, as well as plays and skits. He encouraged drama and singing as 4-H activities.

“A boyhood in State Center, Iowa, a degree in dairy husbandry at Iowa State College, and interims of work on railroads, Iowa farms, a Colorado ranch, and Washington and Alberta wheat fields” were the prelude to Noble’s work at Armour, according to Franklin M. Reck in his official history “The 4-H Story.”

When Noble retired in early 1958, he had served 4-H diligently and well for nearly 40 years. The cooperative effort marking 4-H Club work today is a monument to his foresight and industry.


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Folks Who Helped Make 4-H Great
C. B. Smith

This is the seventh in the series of 10 articles, reprinted from 1962 National 4-H News, which featured people identified by Extension Service professional staff members as “folks who helped make 4-H great.”

C. B. Smith

C_B_SmithMany 4-H workers have a deep-seated philosophy about 4-H. It’s a special gift to be able to lend words to such feelings about this youth movement. And one of the more articulate speakers and writers on this subject was Dr. Clarence Beaman Smith, who spent 26 of his some 40 years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in serving Extension work and, as part of it, boys’ and girls’ club work.

In his poetry and prose, Smith put into words the feelings that he and many other pioneers of club work developed as they saw – but not from the sidelines – the movement grow and flourish. For Smith and his fellow trailblazers transformed their feelings into an action program.

C_B_Smith-2In several ways does today’s 4-H Club work reflect Smith’s contributions.
The youth program’s strong position in overall Extension work is partly a result of his vigorous backing in early years, when many agricultural workers “didn’t have time” for club work. Smith was instrumental in setting up the policy-making 4-H Subcommittee of the formal Extension organization.

As has been said for all the 4-H pioneers discussed in this series, Smith exerted a strong influence for high standards in club work. He didn’t deprecate material things, but he stressed high ideals in youth training. This Federal Extension worker helped establish the memoranda of understanding which put the Smith-Lever act of 1914 into operation by creating Cooperative Extension Services in individual states.

In his position of national leadership, Smith helped create the first National 4-H Club Camp (now National Conference). He opened that 1927 gathering – housed in tents on the U.S.D.A. grounds – with a talk on 4-H in which he stressed that “education is not preparation for life but life itself.”

Smith was born in a one-room log cabin at Howardsville, Mich., the son of Alonzo and Harriett Smith. In the words of one biographer, “Here Dr. Smith learned the fundamental values of life – work, thrift, neighborliness, integrity …”

After attending high school in Gaylord, Mich., Smith borrowed $40 from his parents and started out for the state agricultural college at East Lansing. He worked his way to a B.S. degree in 1894 and an M.S. degree in 1895. After one year as a high school principal, he joined the U.S.D.A.’s Office of Experiment Stations. In 1912 he was made Chief of the Office of Cooperative Extension Work for the entire country, and in 1932 was appointed Assistant Director of Extension. He held this position until his retirement in 1938, after which he continued to write and speak for 4-H.

What kind of man was this 4-H pioneer, who died in 1948? Two of his early co-workers, Gertrude Warren and Paul Taff, describe him as “a great character” with a kindly face and a businesslike manner, a deep thinker and careful organizer. His decisions were fair and were based on strong convictions.

But the continuous thread of philosophy, made evident in his poetry and prose, seems the outstanding trait of C. B. Smith, who wrote:

“The biggest thing (parents) can leave (their children) is an ambition to do and accomplish, to endow them with healthy minds and bodies … Yes, there is growth in struggle. And it is our business in 4-H Club work to place before rural people the things in life most work striving for.”


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Hands-on History. 4-H’ers Help Fight Hunger

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

At the start of 1919, much of the world was still recovering from World War I which had ended nearly fourteen months earlier. The January issue of Junior Soldiers of the Soil (predecessor to National 4-H News) had a number of articles about hunger in the aftermath of war.

One member wrote, “We are glad that the war is over but I am not going to stop raising food. It is just as patriotic to raise food now as ever, so let all Junior Soldiers raise more food and make ourselves known as loyal Junior Soldiers.” Later in the issue is a call to “Organize a Junior Soldier Squad.” President Hoover cautioned that, “We must export ten times as much food if we prevent Europe from starving during the coming year. Let every one of us raise food and feed” to help save Europe.

Since that time, programs have been created to help combat hunger in the US and countries around the world. Yet, USDA reports that in 2014 an estimated 14.0 percent of American households (over one in seven) were food insecure at least some time during the year and the prevalence of very low food security was at 5.6 percent.

Rhode Island Club girls show their patriotism with this 1918 exhibit of canned produce they have grown and preserved. Notice the flags among the canned goods.

Rhode Island Club girls show their patriotism with this 1918 exhibit of canned produce they have grown and preserved. Notice the flags among the canned goods.


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National 4-H Alumni Survey – 1985

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

The year 1985 was a significant year for National 4-H Council regarding how former participants of the 4-H program felt about the program… the impact. At that time 4-H had 40 million living alumni. This is an overwhelming figure, but yet remained basically meaningless… valueless… without some further explanation or documentation. Who are these alumni? What do they think about their 4-H experience? Was it of any sustaining value to them?

Several projects were done during the first seven or eight months of the year. Over 50,000 alumni were identified through these projects. Most of these projects were done by National 4-H Council’s Communications Division in partnership with Council’s Resource Development Office.

Donors assisted with some surveys, carrying an alumni query response card as an insert in their house organ. Others placed an alumni identification “stuffer” in with their monthly customer credit card mailings. Direct mail appeals… one over Roy Rogers’ signature, were done.

In some cases, responses were tremendously high. For example, a survey done by 4-H Council of 4,300 state and national awards winners from 1965-75 – 10 to 20 years ago – using 10 to 20 year old addresses and a 7-page narrative paper survey, resulted in over 2,000 respondents, a 50% return!

Additionally, responses from the alumni were traditionally very positive relating to their 4-H experiences. Many 4-H alumni credit 4-H with selection of their career. The skills taught in 4-H relating to public speaking and record-keeping also were mentioned over and over again. And, third, many respondents continued to be involved, either as local leaders or 4-H parents.

Results of all of these surveys became a strong part of a promotion program, keeping alumni informed and engaged and ultimately as resources for knowledge, as well as dollars!

Although the actual results of the surveys completed in 1985 have not yet been located, the best record of this effort is a copy of a speech given by Council’s Communication Division Director Larry Krug at the 1985 National 4-H Donors’ Conference in Chicago entitled “An Investment Report: Allegiance of Former Participants.” This will soon be digitized and placed in the Books and Printed Materials Archive on the 4-H History website.


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Corn Clubs Spread Through the South

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at


Following the successes in the midwest, by 1909 corn clubs were spreading through the South at a rapid rate. In Virginia that first year, 10,543 boys joined corn clubs and while many of them merely went along with the crowd, some of them made records that surprised their communities. Other states were having similar experiences. On one of his trips from Washington to Mississippi, Dr. Seaman Knapp, highly pleased with the way boys’ demonstration work was going, offered a trip to Washington to the Mississippi boy who made the best record with his corn crop. His offer started something. Following up the lead, O. B. Martin made a similar offer in his own state of South Carolina. T. O. Sandy, in Virginia, raised the purse to send the Virginia champion to the Capitol, and the bankers of Arkansas promised a trip to their champion.

Four young winners – representing four states – made the trip: Ralph Bellwood, Virginia; Bascom Usher, South Carolina; Dewitt C. Lundy, Mississippi; and Elmer Halter, Arkansas. These four teen-age boys were honored for their proficiency in cultivating soil. They were introduced to President William Howard Taft at the White House, and awarded the first diplomas of their kind by Secretary of Agriculture Wilson. They became charter members of the All-Star Corn Club, a national honorary organization of champion growers.The following story is from the October 2015 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

Knapp’s idea of giving prize trips to Washington was continued the following year, and the record made by these boys was more sensational than those of the 1909 winners. The hero of the trip was Jerry Moore, 16-year-old Winona, South Carolina, boy who had raised the amazing total of 228-3/4 bushels on his acre.

Jerry was headlined throughout the nation as the champion corn grower of all time. Newspapers and magazines carried his story in detail, picturing the slight, straw-hatted boy sitting on the edge of an immense mountain of husked corn – the product of his one-acre experiment. His thorough records show exactly how he prepared the soil and what he used for fertilizer. He planted Batts’ Four-ear Prolific corn by hand, about three inches apart in the drill, thinning the plants to about six inches when a half-foot high. He cultivated his corn every four days. Jerry Moore’s story is worth recalling because news of his great yield arched over the nation like a rainbow, providing an apt object lesson for farmers whose yields were lower than they might have been.


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American Oil Company Provides World Globes to 4-H

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

In 1962 the National 4-H Service Committee worked with the national 4-H donor of the 4-H Tractor program in supporting an activity to enhance 4-H’s international exchange programs, including shipping the globes out across the country. During the first six months of the year over 50,000 plastic inflatable globes were made available without charge to state leaders for 4-H distribution. The retail value of the gift was estimated at $522,000.

A 4-H'er blows up the plastic world globe so club members could trace the scope of 4-H in other countries.

A 4-H’er blows up the plastic world globe so club members could trace the scope of 4-H in other countries.

Many clubs, responding to a suggestion accompanying the shipment of globes, took part in an activity entitled “Everybody Learn Where 4-H is Around the World.” Using a list of 70 countries where a 4-H type organization exists, members placed tiny 4-H seals on the globe to show the world-wide scope of 4-H. Other clubs used them for following the progress of IFYE delegates or by participating in the People-to-People program. Some members used the globe to trace Col. John Glenn’s first orbits around the earth in February of that year.


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African American 4-H in Black History Month

The following story is from the January 2016 issue of the 4-H History Preservation Newsletter

The story of Black History Month began in 1915, 50 years after slavery was abolished in the United States (and one year after the passage of the Smith-Lever Act). In 1926 the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) sponsored a “National Negro History Week.” The second week of February was selected to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976. (Excerpted from )

The National 4-H History team continues to build the repository of historically significant resources that document the history of African American 4-H programs.

Did you know?

In North Carolina club work for African American youth began in 1914 with the organization of a group in Sampson County under the leadership of G. W. Herring. Participation grew steadily and by 1945 African American youth participation in North Carolina 4-H exceeded 29,000. “…the 4-H Club Foundation of North Carolina was founded in 1950 in order to raise money for the establishment of a camp for African American boys and girls.” (History of 4-H in North Carolina, NCSU Libraries, NC State University )

West Virginia initiated “camp-outs” in the 1920s for African American youth and had the first African American State 4-H Camp (Camp Washington-Carver), as well as many segregated county camps. Learn about the beginnings of this camp at:

4-H’ers from 11 Southern States participated in the American Negro Exposition held in Chicago in the summer of 1940 to celebrate “the 75th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the achievements of African Americans.” Extension had a prominent spot for the duration of the exposition with 4-H members giving demonstrations on projects and skills they were learning including sewing, canning, raising chickens and hogs, and peanut farming.

(4-H History Preservation Website )

In 1965 black 4-H’ers in South Carolina “attended the State 4-H Club Week at Clemson University, the National 4-H Conference in Washington, DC, and the National 4-H Congress in Chicago with white 4-H’ers from South Carolina for the first time.” Passage of the Civil Rights Act brought changes to 4-H but not without challenges. When separate programs were eliminated, some programs were discontinued until adjustments could be made. (From The History of South Carolina Cooperative Extension Service by Clyde E. Woodall, )

The Association for the Study of African American Life and History (founders of Black History Month) has selected Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories as the theme for this year’s celebration of Black History Month. It is to bring attention to the centennial celebration of the National Park Service and the more than twenty-five historical sites and the Underground Railroad Network to Freedom that are part of America’s hallowed grounds, including the home of the father of black history, Dr. Carter G. Woodson.

You can map significant people, places, and events that help to tell the story of African American 4-H programs in your state by participating in the 4-H History Map Project at and by getting involved in “Voices of 4-H History” at


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Rotary Club Honors National 4-H Center with Strong Partnership

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at


During the decades of the 1970s, 80s, and into the 90s, Bob Lindstrom, manager of the National 4-H Center, built a strong relationship with the local Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rotary Club. The local Rotary club contributed to Council’s programs and occasionally held their meetings at the 4-H Center and both Rotary International and National 4-H Council benefited.

4-H was always proud to have a visible presence on the local club’s banner by way of an image of the National 4-H Center right along side the images of the National Institutes of Health and the National Naval Medical Center. In recent years the local club has provided some funding for the “National 4-H Center Student Forum.” Rotary is one of the oldest, largest and most influential international service organizations in the world with 33,000 clubs in over 200 countries.


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4-H Human Formations

The following story is from the National Compendium of 4-H Promotion and Visibility on the National 4-H History website at

Iowa 4-H girls, representing all 100 counties, while attending their annual meet in Ames in 1936 create a human formation.

Iowa 4-H girls, representing all 100 counties, while attending their annual meet in Ames in 1936 create a human formation.

From the very beginnings of 4-H a century ago, often when boys and girls gathered for special events, one of the activities would be the creation of a human formation. This would often be in the shape of the number and letter “4-H” or the 4-H emblem design. If there were enough participants, sometimes the outline of the state where the event was taking place would circle the main part of the formation. Pictures would be taken for souvenirs – even though most of the images of the participants were indistinguishable.

Later on, starting in the late 1960s after National 4-H Club Week was moved to October, occasionally university marching bands would create a human formation in the shape of the 4-H clover in the center of the football field during halftime ceremonies to commemorate the special event.

Iowa 4-H Girls' Convention, 1929

Iowa 4-H Girls’ Convention, 1929

Iowa 4-H Girls' Convention, 1934

Iowa 4-H Girls’ Convention, 1934


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